Tennessee Titans 5 biggest concerns vs Miami Dolphins

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is tackled by Brian Orakpo #98 of the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is tackled by Brian Orakpo #98 of the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

What should Tennessee Titans fans be concerned with heading into the game on Sunday.

The Tennessee Titans play their first game of the regular season in around 100 hours, football is officially back.

After a boring preseason (which might be overselling it) the Titans are just days away from playing the Miami Dolphins on the road. More than any two or three game stretch of the season, the opening month has been a crucial factor in deciding if teams do or don’t make the playoffs.

The grid below is a great indicator of just how hard it is to get over a slump in the NFL.

If your team goes 0-3 in the opening weeks you have a 2% chance to make the playoffs based on a 22 year sample size.

So even though this game feels like one that the Titans should win based of the talent level of both teams, Tennessee can’t afford to look past the Dolphins this week.

With that in mind, these are the 5 biggest concerns that the team and fans should have going into Sunday.

1. Health at EDGE

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If I was guessing right now I think this is the status of the 6 EDGEs the Titans have on the roster:

Derrick Morgan: Out

Brian Orakpo: Starting

Harold Landry: Out

Kamalei Correa: Starting

Aaron Wallace: Backup

Sharif Finch: Backup

Granted, that isn’t the worst lineup you could have, thanks in large part to the addition of Correa who could probably be an above average depth player on this team for the next few years.

Still, Morgan is a game time decision and Landry is for sure out. If Morgan plays then this unit trends more towards a strength than a weakness. If not, then you are getting into scary territory.

2. Can Dennis Kelly hold down the fort

Like with Morgan, I would chalk up light work and some work on the sidelines to Jack Conklin leaning towards not playing.

If he doesn’t play then the Titans will be putting a lot of pressure on Dennis Kelly who has been boom (Green Bay Packers) or bust (New England) as a backup with Tennessee.

Kelly has a chance to make a lot of money with a good day at right tackle and if he is very good it may even allow the Titans to be extra cautious with Jack Conklin. If not, then all bets are off and Tennessee will have to get Conklin healthy soon.

3. Matt LaFleur’s real playbook

There were a lot of comments this week about players being cut and how hard it was. However, one player that landed on his feet was Luke Falk.

The rookie QB ended up in Miami and well wouldn’t you know it that just so happens to be who the Titans play in Week 1. What an amazing coincidence that is. Nothing suspicious here, just a Dolphins team carrying 4 quarterbacks on their active roster because…of course they are.

Anyway, if they were looking to get any info on the playbook that they  couldn’t get from the game film they will be out of luck. It looks like the young gun Matt LaFleur has been keeping a lot up his sleeve:

If this is true, then great job by LaFleur. I have talked about how the Titans used preseason games to test different things:

-GB: Screen game

-TB: RBs in the run/pass game

-PIT: Deep passes and play action

-MIN: DL and TEs vs WRs for positions

The score didn’t mean anything to this team, it was about trying to execute and figure out what players could and couldn’t do.

Now that they have plenty of film, I am sure they can start implementing a game plan.

I can honestly say I have no idea what is coming Sunday offensively. The Titans could run 10 screen plays or they could run 2, it all just depends on the flow of the game and where this coaching staff thinks that the Dolphins are weakest.

The good news is that hopefully we aren’t watching a boring offense that can’t move the ball until the 3rd quarter like we have at times during the past year.

4. How will Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews look?

I don’t really think Walker or Matthews needed a big preseason after all of the reps they have had with Marcus Mariota in the past. In fact, if Taywan Taylor and Corey Davis develop well then all the reps this preseason could have a big deal to do with that.

However, there is a difference in playing in an offense you are just learning, compared to studying it on tape and drawing up plays.

The two players that Mariota has had the best chemistry with over the last two years are behind the rest of the team in their development in this offense. Both players have the potential to be 800+ yard receivers this year, but first they need to get on the same page with the OC and their QB.

5. Will we finally see a dominating group of defensive backs.

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I think this team has the most talented defensive backs in the NFL. I honestly don’t know of a team with a top-5 as good as:

-Kevin Byard (NFL’s leader in INTs last year)

-Kenny Vaccaro  (30 PBUs, 8 INTs, 7.5 sacks, 4 FFs in 5 years in the NFL)

-Adoree Jackson (rookie leader in PBUs+INTs and 2nd most snaps of anyone in the NFL last year)

-Logan Ryan (2x Super Bowl champion)

-Malcolm Butler (2x Super Bowl champion, 2016 All-Pro)

Other teams may be more top heavy, but nearly everyone has a weak link somewhere in their nickel package. However, the Titans are a team that could be lethal if they can keep 5 DBs on the field often.

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There are still questions though. Is Malcolm Butler healthy enough to be the guy he was in preseason practices? Can Byard repeat after such an outstanding year? Is Vacarro ready to be the guy we saw when he was healthy, or have injuries derailed what he could have been?

If the Titans can get some clarification there and if those 5 can have a great day, I don’t see many teams beating Tennessee no matter what else happens.